Disappointing Watchlist

Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle
Scene: comely young nurse goes swimming, in the buff. Cheeta has stolen her clothes and towel. Tarzan walks up, all Tarzany and also incredibly buff.

Girl: “…. …. ….HELP.”
Girl: “Big trouble!”
Tarzan: “I help!”
Girl: “NO!”


Unfortunately, the rest of the movie fails to achieve its full potential moronic charm.

So there’s an evil group of poachers who have a contract for one million billion tons of antelope skins, rhino horns, chimpanzee brains, tiger testicles, and baby elephant oil. (Oil made from baby elephants, that is. Not the All-Natural 100% Organic African Black Sap  Jungle Trunk and Tail Oil mama elephants apply to their babies [THIS ITEM AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AT YOUR LOCAL WEALTHFOODSTORE. FULFILMENT VIA AMAZON. TWO-DAY SHIPPING MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE IN YOUR REGION. SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE REDNESS, ITCHING, VOODOO DEATH, OR HAIR LOSS. DISCONTINUE PRODUCT USE AND INFORM YOUR LOCAL WITCHDOCTOR IF SIDE EFFECTS OCCUR]). And they’re way behind schedule in getting them! Oh noes! And then a UN doctor who naturally also isn’t very smart, agrees to take the poacher gang with him (masquerading as photographers) into the untouched/sacred territory across the river. Oh noes! He must be warned!
(Tarzan, meanwhile, is busy with the very important business of fetching some important jungle medicine mud for a sick man). So off goes Nurse Jill, and promptly wrecks her UN-issue car. DUH LADY. It’s probably not even 4WD. (Nurse Missie Jill is also incredibly inept, although I will concede that being chased into quicksand by a giant python could happen to anyone). Anyhow, once rescued, she needs to be taken along because there isn’t enough time to take her back and warn Doc. So off they go.
(The tribal chief’s girlfriend/wife has quite the fetching off-the-shoulder ensemble with a bold and ultramodern zebra pattern bodice. v. chic, I must say.) And at about that point I got bored, so I’m not entirely sure how Doc and Missie Miss get thrown into the lion pit (oh noes!), but suffice it to say that Tarzan saves the day…..by grabbing a spear and jumping into the pit, too. And then…yelling at the lions to go away. Sooooo….Numa speaks Swahili?

So, yes, I would have a problem with this movie even if it wasn’t called “Tarzan.” It does not have an actual Tarzan–Lord Greystoke, John Clayton, the Mighty, Killer of Apes and Men, Lord of the Jungle–in it. It’s got a monosyllabic guy in a loincloth who is way overattached to baby elephants and chimpanzees and can occasionally manage to manhandle a couple of overweight shikaris or African “boys”. That’s to be expected. Even the very best Tarzan movies (Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure, Tarzan the Magnificent, don’t really have Edgar Rice Burroughs’ characters in them. Don’t get me started on the modern ones. Just…don’t.)

But why on Earth would I have a problem with something meant to be simple, mindless entertainment? Well, because the best mindless entertainment is simple, but not dumb. There should be actual characters; there should be motives. There should be plot; there should be complications, there should be setbacks, and there should be victories. Also, there should be action. You don’t have to have romance (Cheeta gets more action than Tarzan does, post-quicksand synchronized swimming routines aside)–but you ought to have chemistry. There are a surprising number of zero-budget B-movie flicks which manage beyond all odds to have charm. (Duel of the Titans/Romulus et Remus, Sword of the Conqueror, Princess of the Nile, A Queen for Caesar…)
This movie is a) just dumb, b) really cheap.
And that’s okay.
….but it’s not great.

Rated: I was more amused by my own baby elephant oil joke than any other part of the movie.

Heart: a History – Sandeep Jauhar
(copied from my class notes)
– SO MANY DOGS! They’d never get away with that today! Is that a bad thing or a good thing? They made so many discoveries, but zero oversight. I’m not sure what the answer is. I’m for live animals not being experimented on if we can help it. But I’m also for people not dying. I dunno!
– Progress is made by the interested and motivated and slightly insane person who is in the right place, at the right time.
– Best course of action is to give people medicine and make their parts work properly. Even with pacemakers, defibrilator implants, continuous-flow hearts, the best thing sometimes is to just try to make people work properly.
– Continuously upgrading my cyborg body therefore isn’t an option, alas… (Alita: Battle Angel is unrealistic.)
– So, I kinda default to literary criticism when I’m reading something that has an anecdotal component. Author wanted to work through his feelings about his family; he was trying to put everything into some sort of perspective after his mother died, and how some of his patients with defibrillators or pacemakers were praying that they would go quickly; while his mother died not of heart disease….very slowly and horribly. That’s legit. C. S. Lewis wrote an entire book as he was working through his feelings about his wife dying. This guy isn’t C.S. Lewis, but he does have things to say and think about.
– Problem: Author wanted to also write an entertaining and accessible book about the history of cardiac medicine.
– Author potentially wanted both parts of the book to pull together and form some kind of emotional and educational masterpiece, whereby people would be touched, edified, uplifted. Problem: he is nowhere near good enough to pull it off.

Rated: what do you mean, I only get ten points extra credit for this?

Tarzan Tuesday


Lex Barker had an interesting life off-screen too:

Enlisting in the US Army and rising to the rank of Major during WW2, and being wounded in action in Sicily,


Acting in a wide range of genres, from film noir to thrillers to comedy and Westerns–to especial popularity in German-language Westerns, wow.

Marrying five times, including once to Lana Turner.


Barker lived fast, died at the age of 54, and hopefully left a good-looking corpse behind.


Tarzan Tuesday

The one where the hero fights a crocodile, the damsel takes over the ship at gunpoint, and the cook dies a hero:

Tarzan’s infant son, Jack, is kidnapped by his nemesis, Rokoff the Russian. Rokoff’s plan is to take Jack to the primordial vastnesses of Darkest Africa and give him to the cannibal tribes–not to kill, but to raise as their own in his own twisted evolutionary programme for the Greystoke family. The father an ape–the son a cannibal. Rokoff does even better than he thought he would, because with baby Jack as bait, he manages to capture both Tarzan and Jane (separately). Tarzan he maroons on an uninhabited island, Jane he keeps–for himself.

But the uninhabited island is home to a tribe of Mangani, of whom Tarzan soon becomes leader and escapes to the mainland; Jane gains the sympathy and help of the cook, and escapes to the mainland, and a variety of twists and turns (and crocodiles) keep them from actually finding each other until the very last chapter. (Burroughs was an expert at maddeningly delaying reader gratification with headlong coincidences, random twists, and sudden crocodiles.)

Will Tarzan go down beneath the clubs and spears of the frenzied cannibal horde? Will he live to save his child and his wife? Will Jane escape the clutches of Rokoff and reach safety with her baby? Will Rokoff live to twirl his moustache another day?

You already know the answer…

Books Over Food

Memory, Lois McMaster Bujold
The Jargon Pard, Andre Norton
Sea Siege, Andre Norton
Lord of Thunder, Andre Norton
Swords against Death, Fritz Leiber
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Fury, Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore
Knave of Dreams, Andre Norton
The Last Planet, Andre Norton
Necromancer, Gordon R Dickson
Children of Dune, Frank Herbert (DRAT! I just realized this is the third part of the initial trilogy, not the second. That would be Dune Messiah. Ah well, it’s still a pretty good book.)
Ice Crown, Andre Norton
The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas (OH DAMNIT ARGH, the abridged edition. NO WONDER IT WAS CHEAPER.)
Night of Masks, Andre Norton
Skylark of Space, E.E. “Doc” Smith.
Wuthering Heights (NOT abridged. HAH.)
The Return of Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs
A Gun for Dinosaur, L. Sprague de Camp
Spacepaw, Gordon R. Dickson
Skylark Three, E. E. Doc Smith
Telzey Amberdon, James H. Schmitz
And then in the *other* box,
Dare To Go A-Hunting, Andre Norton
Woodswoman, Anne LaBastille
Tarzan the Terrible, Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Lays of Beleriand, JRR Tolkien
Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card

Miscellaneous thoughts: you can put Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in the classic literature section rather than the trash, but it still is going to be trash no matter what….

Tarzan Tuesday

This is a repost, but it made me snicker, so:

The Return of Tarzan – Chapter 5 – a rough summary

Tarzan: (busting in through the double doors) “Who do I punch?”
Olga de Coude: “Jean, it’s midnight and this is my boudoir! What can be the meaning of this?”
Tarzan: “It must be…a trap!”
Olga: (gasps)
Tarzan: “Yes, our friend Rokoff must have lured me here, to your bouid–bud–bedroom thingy–in order to sully your reputation! What a cad! Why does he keep doing this! Nice nightie, by the way.”
Olga: “Oh, do you like it? How about from this angle?”
Tarzan: “Come a little closer so I can admire it up in the light.”
Olga: “Sure. Oh, Jean, whatever shall we do if my husband finds us! He’ll never believe for a moment all you wanted to do was–what did you want to do?”
Tarzan: “Well, punch things, but whoa am I having second thoughts all of a sudden. Is that silk transparent, or is it just a little chilly in here?”
Olga: “Oh! You must protect me! Please say you’ll protect me! Puppydog eyes!”
Tarzan: “There, there.”
Olga: “Pleading hands on your lapels!”
Tarzan: “There, there, there, there.”
Olga: “I–I don’t know what to do! Sob!”
Tarzan: “There, th…oh hell, {smooch.}”
Count de Coude: Raaaa!
Olga de Coude: “….what the living hell just happened!?”
Tarzan: “…”
Olga: “Please go. Just…go.”
Rokoff: (rubs hands together, cackles, twirls moustache, etc)
Paulvitch: (cackles)
Tarzan: (graps them and bangs their heads together…I am not making that up)

Tarzan Tuesday

LORD GREYSTOKE was hunting, or, to be more accurate, he was shooting pheasants at Chamston-Hedding. Lord Greystoke was immaculately and appropriately garbed—to the minutest detail he was vogue. To be sure, he was among the forward guns, not being considered a sporting shot, but what he lacked in skill he more than made up in appearance. At the end of the day he would, doubtless, have many birds to his credit, since he had two guns and a smart loader—many more birds than he could eat in a year, even had he been hungry, which he was not, having but just arisen from the breakfast table.

The beaters—there were twenty-three of them, in white smocks—had but just driven the birds into a patch of gorse, and were now circling to the opposite side that they might drive down toward the guns. Lord Greystoke was quite as excited as he ever permitted himself to become. There was an exhilaration in the sport that would not be denied. He felt his blood tingling through his veins as the beaters approached closer and closer to the birds. In a vague and stupid sort of way Lord Greystoke felt, as he always felt upon such occasions, that he was experiencing a sensation somewhat akin to a reversion to a prehistoric type—that the blood of an ancient forbear was coursing hot through him, a hairy, half-naked forbear who had lived by the hunt.

And far away in a matted equatorial jungle another Lord Greystoke, the real Lord Greystoke, hunted. By the standards which he knew, he, too, was vogue—utterly vogue, as was the primal ancestor before the first eviction. The day being sultry, the leopard skin had been left behind. The real Lord Greystoke had not two guns, to be sure, nor even one, neither did he have a smart loader; but he possessed something infinitely more efficacious than guns, or loaders, or even twenty-three beaters in white smocks—he possessed an appetite, an uncanny woodcraft, and muscles that were as steel springs.

Later that day, in England, a Lord Greystoke ate bountifully of things he had not killed, and he drank other things which were uncorked to the accompaniment of much noise. He patted his lips with snowy linen to remove the faint traces of his repast, quite ignorant of the fact that he was an impostor and that the rightful owner of his noble title was even then finishing his own dinner in far-off Africa. He was not using snowy linen, though. Instead he drew the back of a brown forearm and hand across his mouth and wiped his bloody fingers upon his thighs. Then he moved slowly through the jungle to the drinking place, where, upon all fours, he drank as drank his fellows, the other beasts of the jungle.

As he quenched his thirst, another denizen of the gloomy forest approached the stream along the path behind him. It was Numa, the lion, tawny of body and black of mane, scowling and sinister, rumbling out low, coughing roars. Tarzan of the Apes heard him long before he came within sight, but the ape-man went on with his drinking until he had had his fill; then he arose, slowly, with the easy grace of a creature of the wilds and all the quiet dignity that was his birthright.

Numa halted as he saw the man standing at the very spot where the king would drink. His jaws were parted, and his cruel eyes gleamed. He growled and advanced slowly. The man growled, too, backing slowly to one side, and watching, not the lion’s face, but its tail. Should that commence to move from side to side in quick, nervous jerks, it would be well to be upon the alert, and should it rise suddenly erect, straight and stiff, then one might prepare to fight or flee; but it did neither, so Tarzan merely backed away and the lion came down and drank scarce fifty feet from where the man stood.

Tomorrow they might be at one another’s throats, but today there existed one of those strange and inexplicable truces which so often are seen among the savage ones of the jungle. Before Numa had finished drinking, Tarzan had returned into the forest, and was swinging away in the direction of the village of Mbonga, the black chief.